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Hilal Isler


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I’m a Turkish American writer in the Twin Cities

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I’ve earned Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees in Molecular Biology & Genetics

from UMCP

My doctorate is from UPenn. The dissertation I wrote was on the American children of immigrants.I graduated with honors.

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I’m proud to be a 2023-2024 McKnight Fellow in Creative Prose. Alexander Chee was the judge.

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Best Small Fictions

Thrilled to have my short story, Scorpion, included in the Best Small Fictions, 2023 anthology.

You can read it here.

I’ve been writing for fun almost as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t until grad school — when my boyfriend suggested I contribute to the Daily Pennsylvanian — that I published for the first time.

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After graduation came many years of freelancing. At first it was concert & album reviews.

Back then, I mostly wrote about Asian American, & British Asian artists for Rolling Stone India...

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King Khan

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Sub Swara

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Big Sleep

...before branching out, considering art & culture more generally for the Guardian, Elle, & Vogue Turkiye, Condé Nast Traveler, & O, the Oprah magazine.

Eventually, in 2015, I started a blog, surprised to amass thousands of “followers” simply by writing about my life.

I talked about my parents, my girlhood, and my chakras; about working in a restaurant, & nearly getting expelled from a Saudi Arabian high school for starting an underground yearbook.

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My beloved mother sewed about 90%

of my clothes, including this

Children of the Corn dress.

Since then, I’ve been pushing at the boundaries of the craft, trying to think bigger, to do better. Being recognized for my efforts has been a boon.

Here are some recent highlights:



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Loft Fellow

Jerome Foundation &

the National Endowment

for the Arts


Roxane Gay Fellow

Jack Jones Literary Arts Assocation

Being part of a larger American literary & scholarship community is something I take seriously. To that end, I want to make sure I pay it forward...

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I’m a Penn Alumni Ambassador, Interviewing Applicants for the

State of MN

I’m Founding Editor of the BIPoC Literary Journal, the Hennepin Review

I’m One of the Readers for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (MN)

I Volunteer as a Reader for the Literary Journal, Ploughshares

And last, but surely not least, here’s some work I’m pleased to share:

Khadijah Number Two

(McSweeney’s, Issue 67. Print only!)

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When in Riyadh

Selected for ‘One Great Story,’ New York’s Reading Recommendations newsletter.


Winner. Best Small Fictions, 2023

Thanks for visiting!

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